Cancer hits close to home at Petal Primary


For Petal Primary School, this year’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month hits a little close to home, as the school currently is home to three students who are either battling childhood cancer or are in remission – second-graders Harlie Williams and Eli Hudson, and first-grader Owen Thurmond.

It’s one of the many reasons why the primary school – along with other schools in the Petal School District – are taking part in The Stinky Feet Challenge to raise funds for Relay For Life, the fundraising arm of the American Cancer Society. During the month of September, students can purchase paper cut-outs of feet from their teachers for $1, on which they can sign their names before posting the cut-outs on the walls outside the classrooms.

All proceeds from the challenge will go toward cancer research and education.

The school that raises the most money during the challenge will receive a trophy from Relay for Life, and a pizza party sponsored by Domino’s and hosted by Miss USM Macy Mitchell will be awarded to the class in each grade that raises the most funds.

“So there’s a monetary incentive there for the kids, but that’s just kind of a side note,” said Tessa Trimm, principal of Petal Primary School. “The basis of it is that we’re raising money for cancer research and Relay for Life.”

As of Monday, Petal Primary students had raised $961 for the challenge, with officials hoping to hit $2,000 by the end of the month.

“It’s amazing,” Trimm said. “Our theme this year is ‘Hometown Values,’ and so it’s pretty amazing how our people rally around our folks. Whether it’s monetary or it’s just serving, our parents and our kids are always willing to step in, no matter what it is.

“With it being students here on our campus, I think it’s a little bit more real to our parents seeing students from Petal Primary School that have overcome and battled cancer. It just makes it more real, and (the students’) effort definitely makes me proud.”

Leesa Mitchell, community development for the ASC South Region, said engaging in community service events like the Stinky Feet Challenge provides children with the opportunity to become active members of their community and has a lasting, positive impact on society at large.

“Volunteering in their community gives children a sense of belonging and contributing to a greater cause,” she said. “The American Cancer Society recognizes the impact that our children can have not only on our fundraising and awareness campaigns today, but we also understand these little volunteers are the individuals who will carry on our mission of saving lives, celebrating lives and leading the fight for a world without cancer.”

Petal also held Toni Marino Day on Tuesday in honor of Toni Marino, the 12-year-old Petal student who died last year from complications associated with acute myeloid leukemia. In remembrance of Marino, students around the district wore gold rather than their usual uniforms.

Tuesday was Yearbook Picture Day for the primary school, so those students will dress up in gold on another day in the near future.

“We’re probably going to do that another day this month,” Trimm said.